Rohingya sue Facebook for $150B, alleging role in violence

Rohingya refugees are suing Facebook parent Meta Platforms for more than $150 billion over what they say was the company’s failure to stop hateful posts that incited violence against the Muslim ethnic group by Myanmar’s military rulers and their supporters

Via AP news wire
Tuesday 07 December 2021 12:55
Facebook Rohingya
Facebook Rohingya

Rohingya refugees sued Facebook parent Meta Platforms for more than $150 billion over what they say was the company's failure to stop hateful posts that incited violence against the Muslim ethnic group by Myanmar s military rulers and their supporters.

Lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit Monday in California saying Facebook's arrival in Myanmar helped spread hate speech, misinformation and incitement to violence that “amounted to a substantial cause, and eventual perpetuation of, the Rohingya genocide."

Lawyers in the United Kingdom have issued notice of their intention to file a similar legal action. Facebook, which was recently renamed Meta, did not immediately, reply to a request for comment.

It's the latest in a series of accusations that the social media giant fueled misinformation and political violence, outlined in redacted internal documents obtained by a consortium of news organizations, including The Associated Press.

The combined legal claims from Rohingya refugees are being filed on behalf of anyone worldwide who survived the violence or had a relative who died from it.

The Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic group forced to flee persecution and violence in Myanmar starting in 2017, with an estimated 1 million living in refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh. Some 10,000 have ended up in the United States.

In 2018, United Nations human rights experts investigating attacks against the Rohingya said Facebook had played a role in spreading hate speech.

More than 10,000 Rohingya have been killed and more than 150,000 were subject to physical violence, according to the law firms organizing the cases.

The lawsuits say Facebook’s algorithms amplified hate speech against the Rohingya people and that it didn’t spend enough money to hire moderators and fact checkers who spoke the local languages or understood the political situation.

They also say Facebook failed to shut accounts and pages or take down posts inciting violence or using hate speech directed at the ethnic group.

Facebook arrived in Myanmar in 2011, arranging for millions of residents to access the internet for the first time, according to the lawsuit filed in California Superior Court for San Mateo County. But the lawsuit says the company did little to warn people about the dangers of online misinformation and fake accounts — tactics employed by the military in its campaign against the Rohingya.

The lawsuit says Facebook knew that rewarding users for posting dangerous content and allowing fake accounts created by autocrats to flourish would radicalize users.

“The resulting Facebook-fueled anti-Rohingya sentiment motivated and enabled the military government of Myanmar to engage in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya,” the lawsuit says.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in